long ago ideas

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago." - Friedrich Nietzsche. Long ago, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery conquered false claims that the Book of Mormon was fiction or that it came through a stone in a hat. But these old claims have resurfaced in recent years. To conquer them again, we have to return to what Joseph and Oliver taught.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Cumorah and the Three Witnesses

M2C advocates claim there are "two Cumorahs" because the "hill in New York" where Joseph found the plates cannot be either (i) the scene of the final battles of the Nephites and Jaredites or (ii) the location of Mormon's depository of Nephite records.

The M2C intellectuals and their followers know their theory contradicts Letter VII. They also know Brigham Young and others taught explicitly that the depository was in the New York Cumorah.

M2C organizations such as Book of Mormon Central and FairMormon readily repudiate the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah by claiming the prophets and apostles who discussed the New York Cumorah simply misled the Church by expressing their own opinions.

However, not many Church members realize that the M2C interpretation of Brigham Young's teaching supports the position of critics of the Church who disbelieve everything about the Restoration.

M2C scholars claim Brigham Young related a vision, not an actual experience.

The FairMormon explanation omits a critical part of President Young's teaching, along with the historical context. This misleads Church members.

Here's the link:


Here is the sentence that precedes President Young's statement: "I lived right in the country where the plates were found from which the Book of Mormon was translated, and I know a great many things pertaining to that country."'

JOD 19:38.

President Young was not talking about an imaginary or "visionary" hill somewhere in southern Mexico as FairMormon wants us to believe.

FairMormon explains it this way: "The geologic unlikelihood of a cave existing within the hill such as the one described suggests that the experience related by the various witnesses was most likely a vision, or a divine transportation to another locale (as with Nephi's experience in 1 Nephi 11:1)."

Of course, no one said or implied that the depository was a natural cave. The M2C explanation that the experience must have been a vision repudiates Brigham Young's testimony, as well as what others said, including Wilford Woodruff.

The M2C advocates cite Heber C. Kimball's statement about a "vision" to justify their claim that the real Cumorah is in Mexico:

In response to a Brother Mills’s statement about the handcart pioneers, Heber C. Kimball said:
How does it compare with the vision that Joseph and others had, when they went into a cave in the hill Cumorah, and saw more records than ten men could carry? There were books piled up on tables, book upon book. Those records this people will yet have, if they accept of the Book of Mormon and observe its precepts, and keep the commandments.

Those of us who still believe the teachings of the prophets interpret this use of the term "vision" to mean a view or sight.

Consider this. If Kimball's statement was a vision, what about Joseph's statement about his experience with Martin Harris?

"We accordingly joined in prayer, and ultimately obtained our desires, for before we had yet finished, the same vision was opened to our view; at least it was again to me, and I once more beheld, and heard the same things; whilst at the same moment, Martin Harris cried out, apparantly in ecstacy of joy, “Tis enough; mine eyes have beheld,” and jumping up he shouted, hosanah, blessing God, and otherwise rejoiced exceedingly."

The M2C interpretation of Heber C. Kimball's statement relegates Martin Harris' experience as one of the Three Witnesses to a purely spiritual experience.

Which is exactly what critics such as the CES Letter also claim.


  1. Brother Neville,

    It seems odd that you would continue to cite statements of past Church leaders to support your ideology on Book of Mormon Geography in light of the First Presidency's request on their official website (ChurchofJesusChrist.Org) that asks you not to do that very thing in ANY setting or manner that would imply either prophetic or Church support of your theories.
    Their statement asking that you not do this reads:
    "Individuals may have their own opinions regarding Book of Mormon geography and other such matters about which the Lord has not spoken. However, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles urge leaders and members not to advocate those personal theories in any setting or manner that would imply either prophetic or Church support for those theories."

    It's pretty clear to us long-time readers of your blogs that you regularly rely on the statements of past prophets (today it is Brigham Young and Wilford Woodruff) to imply support for your ideology. If you want to be credible I, for one, would hope you would comply with our First Presidency's request so that your readers will not be confused or be forced to "choose which prophets they will follow", which is surely in the mind of todays leaders.

    Thank you for considering this suggestion.

    1. The reality here is to choose whether the Book of Mormon is real history of a REAL people in a REAL place. I respectfully disagree with the statement that the Lord hasn't spoken on these things. For me, it's terribly difficult to sift through the large amount of cognitive dissonance this statement presents when reading through the Book of Mormon BECAUSE of the prophecies, revelations, and covenants being tied so tightly with the land in which the people lived. Didn't that stuff come from the Lord? In this case, I can see clearly that the Lord hasn't revealed or spoken on many specifics, but one can't deny that the Book of Mormon speaks specifically about the LAND quite often. So...what to do, if anything?

      If you care, I propose a few questions while you study your Book of Mormon this year. Does the promised land matter to the people who wrote the on the plates? Why? What are the covenants associated with the land(s) of the Nephites, Lamenites, and Jaredites? Are those covenants still in effect? Why? How important is for me to know where the promised land is at this time? Why?

      I'm telling you, the Book of Mormon can answer all of these for you. You may find that you don't need all these blog posts, and you do your own thing because you have the Book of Mormon before you.

    2. Rory, you are right. The Book of Mormon is a real history of a real people in a real place. Other than that, I'm out of my league to try to explain the nuances of Book of Mormon references to a "promised land." I am not a scholar on any topic, but I have some sense of what a promised land means to me.

      In 2 Nephi 1:5 we read that “Notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed.” The First Presidency statement in the Gospel Topics Essay on the website explains that the events described in the Book of Mormon "took place in the ancient Americas" and that has always met my geographical needs in reading and relating the message of the Book to my own life.

      Lehi's destination was to be a "land of promise," meaning it was more than an exceptional place to dwell and prosper - it was to be a "place of promises" or covenants...a place where God would covenant with His people for their eternal benefit. This land of promises was always spoken of as part of the "inheritance" he would bestow on them, conditioned upon their faithfulness to the covenants. I have never imagined in my study of the Book that the land was necessarily blessed by his promises but that the people would be blessed if they kept the covenants He was willing to make with them.

      Even though Lehi's family landed in a "land of promise" it never had much of an effect on Laman or Lemuel. They never prospered in the land because they never made nor kept the covenants required to receive the blessings. In the end the entire Lamanite and Nephite nations never prospered in this "land of promises" because they didn't keep or make promises with the Lord.

      The destination of Lehi's family and the place where they grew and multiplied for 1,000 years held such promise for them - but in the end the "land" was never really blessed because they refused the inheritance...or in other words they refused the conditions upon which the inheritance was based.

      That land of promises - wherever it was physically located in the ancient Americas - has no real bearing on us today, for it is not the land that desperately needed the promised blessings - it was the people. And so it is today, it really won't matter what blessings flow with the "land of promises" if His people don't keep the promises.

      God bless us both in our study of the Book of Mormon this year. You are absolutely right - no one needs a blogpost to discover the most essential answers to their particular life questions. It's in the Book and in the words of modern prophets.

      In the end I can only rely on what President Nelson is telling us today on the subject of "where" that land is - and he said "the Lord has not spoken."


    3. Thank you kindly, internet friend. I’m not looking to be right or wrong, but I appreciate the sentiment.

      Personally, turning the Book of Mormon into allegory and metaphor is not a place I want to go. Justification takes many strange paths and it’s very tempting to “advocate those personal theories” and relay it in a “ any setting or manner that would imply either prophetic or Church support for those theories.”

      Thanks for the kind words, but this is probably where our paths diverge.